5 Key Metrics in Test Automation and How to Track Them
Learn more about test automation and how it can help your team save time and money by identifying faults and bugs early to improve user experience.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Testing is a constant part of product and software development.
When you’re writing code for a new product, you need to monitor it as you go along for faults. When your business launches a new piece of software or technical service, you’ll need to keep track of its functionality.
Consistently testing your product for faults and bugs will help to identify problems early and improve user experience. In the long run, this will help your business to be more successful in meeting its sales goals.
Testing runs your product or service through a series of processes to determine if it works correctly.
What Is Test Automation?
Say your company has decided to build a mobile app to help create a community around your product. Your company will need to test this app for ease of interaction and to detect any bugs that cause it to crash. This can be done manually, but it’s time-consuming, particularly for a small team.
This is where test automation comes in.
Test automation is the process of automating certain tests applied to a product by writing a program designed to carry out those tests. It’s usually best to start with just one or two automated tests to get a feel for how they work and whether they suit your business and workload.
Key Metrics in Test Automation
There are a number of ways that you can determine how successful your automated tests have been and whether they need any improvements.
Keeping track of your testing should be a key part of your digital operation strategy for this product, as it could save your business a lot of wasted time and effort.
These are some of the metrics that you may want to track when using test automation:
- Requirements coverage: This is particularly applicable if you’re developing a product for a client. If you’re working to a brief, you’ll usually have certain requirements that the product needs to meet. This test will measure how many of these requirements are covered by the automated tests. To maximize the efficiency of this test, you may want to repeat the test manually for complex requirements.
- Defect distribution: This is the measure of where defects or bugs are found across your product. If there are clusters of defects in a particular area of the product, then you may need to switch to a manual test to see whether there is a larger problem with a unit.
- Test efficacy: This measures the percentage of defects found out of the total number of tests. Having a low percentage of successful tests doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an issue with your tests. It may be that there are minimal faults with your product, but you might want to check your tests for any faults.
- Unit test coverage: A unit test is a test of a single unit in a software system. You’ll want to measure how much of your product is covered by unit testing. This is to make sure that you don’t miss any units before releasing the product. You’ll also need to make sure that the system as works as a whole because working parts don’t guarantee a working system.
- Time saved: This may be the most important metric when it comes to successful automated testing. Automated testing is designed to save your team time that you can dedicate to product development and other manual tests. If automating tests isn’t saving you time, then it’s hardly worth doing. In fact, you need to be careful that you don’t end up spending more time on maintaining the tests than you would be doing them manually.
You might also consider incorporating the principles of continuous integration into your automated testing strategy.
But what is continuous integration? Continuous integration is the process of continually making edits and updates to a product or piece of software. It’s easier and smoother than making updates in batches and can save you time.
Making constant smaller updates can help you to pinpoint the cause of any problems that arise from editing the software.
How to Track Key Metrics
It’s fairly simple to gather data across your automated testing strategy. By doing it regularly, you can avoid wasting time and money with ineffective tests.
- Requirements coverage: You’ll need to know what your requirements are and where exactly they’re situated within the code for the software. You can then work out a percentage coverage using these pieces of information: coverage/total number of requirements x 100 = requirement coverage percentage.
- Defect distribution: If you want to measure this as you go along — for example, if you’re working on cloud software with lots of different areas — then you might consider using a hosting platform for your automated testing. It will collect the data for you over time and show your team where improvements may be needed.
- Test efficacy: This is a simple calculation. If you run 500 tests and find 10 defects, then the percentage of tests that find defects is 2%. This is most effective if you’re running an automated test as confirmation of manual testing results.
- Unit test coverage: Make sure to keep an accurate record of all of the units within your system and how many of these are covered by your automatic tests. You may find that your testing will be more successful by reserving unit testing to simple units and testing more complex units manually.
- Time saved: This should be included in your strategy for automated testing. You’ll need to know how long, on average, it takes the appropriate team members to conduct a manual test from start to finish. Compare this to the time it takes to run the test to completion automatically. Don’t forget to factor in the time taken to build and maintain the automated tests.
Keep an eye on trends in automation testing and try to keep your testing methods up to date.
You should also make sure that your whole automation team knows what is happening and understands their role within the team. Automated testing will only save time and money if you can quickly deal with issues and escalate things appropriately.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.